Monticchiello—Tuscany's Overlooked Gem

Updated on December 16, 2017
bdegiulio profile image

Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures, experiences, and makes the world a better, more tolerant place.

Entrance to Monticchiello
Entrance to Monticchiello | Source

Discovering Monticchiello

Tucked away among the rolling Tuscan landscape south of Siena in the heart of the Val d’Orcia is what I consider to be one of the most beautiful medieval villages in all of Tuscany. Largely overlooked by tourists, which is a good thing, Monticchiello has managed to retain both its physical and cultural history.

Perched high on a hill overlooking the valley, the entrance to the village from the Porta Sant’Agata (city gate) offers absolutely stunning views across the valley to Pienza. This extraordinarily beautiful region of Tuscany, the Val d'Orcia, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004. We stumbled onto this Tuscan gem, Monticchiello, not by accident, but at the suggestion of our host, Giacomo, at the Agriturismo Le Caggiole.

The view from the Porta Sant'Agata looking over the Val d' Orcia toward Pienza.
The view from the Porta Sant'Agata looking over the Val d' Orcia toward Pienza. | Source

Arriving in Monticchiello early in the day, we found ourselves almost alone in the village among the few locals who were out. Sensing that we were tourists, we were approached by a few of the residents for some interesting conversation in which they understood no English and we understood very little Italian. Despite the obvious language barrier, we somehow managed to communicate with these warm and hospitable folks.

Strolling through Monticchiello, one can imagine that this village has probably changed little over the centuries. The remaining towers, one of which is now privately owned, hearken back to the day when they were fortifications to defend the village. It seems as though time has frozen for Monticchiello. With less than 200 inhabitants, many locals occupy the Porta Sant’Agata to greet the limited number of tourists that find their way here. As there is only one way in and one way out of Monticchiello, it is easy to notice visitors heading up the hill from the parking area below.

Once inside the walls of this ancient village, you will immediately notice that the locals take great pride in their dwellings. Nearly every home is adorned with blooming pots of flowers and the laundry hanging overhead seems to add to the ambiance of this charming place. The village center is dominated by the Church of Santi Leonardo and Christoforo which dates back to the 13th century. Take some time to walk through the church and admire the frescoes while you are here. With virtually no other tourists around you can move with ease and not feel rushed.

Scenes from Monticchiello

Click thumbnail to view full-size
That's Monticchiello in the upper right hand corner with the TowersThis gentleman greeted us when we arrived.  We nicknamed him the "Mayor" of Monticchiello.Piazza in village centerWhere did everyone go?Church of Santi Leonardo and Christoforo.  Notice the Frescoes on the walls.Flowers everywhereThey certainly know how to make laundry look nice!Beautiful views everywhere you look.Conversing with the locals.
That's Monticchiello in the upper right hand corner with the Towers
That's Monticchiello in the upper right hand corner with the Towers | Source
This gentleman greeted us when we arrived.  We nicknamed him the "Mayor" of Monticchiello.
This gentleman greeted us when we arrived. We nicknamed him the "Mayor" of Monticchiello. | Source
Piazza in village center
Piazza in village center | Source
Where did everyone go?
Where did everyone go? | Source
Church of Santi Leonardo and Christoforo.  Notice the Frescoes on the walls.
Church of Santi Leonardo and Christoforo. Notice the Frescoes on the walls. | Source
Flowers everywhere
Flowers everywhere | Source
They certainly know how to make laundry look nice!
They certainly know how to make laundry look nice! | Source
Beautiful views everywhere you look.
Beautiful views everywhere you look. | Source
Conversing with the locals.
Conversing with the locals. | Source

If you happen upon Monticchiello during the summer months from mid-July to mid-August, make it a point to see the “Teatro Povero” (Poor Theatre). This nightly theatrical experience is written, directed, and recited by the residents of Monticchiello as a testament to the life and history of its people. Although we did not get to experience the theatre in September, I would imagine this to be a highlight of Monticchiello.

For a couple of restaurant suggestions, stop by either La Taverna di Moranda or Osteria La Porta. You can check Tripadvisor for reviews of both restaurants. If you are looking for outdoor seating with a view of the valley then opt for Osteria La Porta. If the view is not of concern then consider La Taverna di Moranda. This family-owned Bistro with its stone walls, vaulted beamed ceilings, and unique archways, offers a truly Tuscan atmosphere.

La Taverna di Moranda
La Taverna di Moranda | Source
Outdooe terrace of Osteria La Porta
Outdooe terrace of Osteria La Porta | Source

So, if you find yourself heading to southern Tuscany, make it a point to visit Monticchiello. The more well-known Tuscan towns that everyone visits such as Siena, San Gimignano, and Montepulciano, are all beautiful in their own right, but they can also be overrun with tourists depending on when you visit. For a more relaxed atmosphere and experience, try one of Tuscany’s truly overlooked gems.

Ciao for now.

Monticchiello - Southern Tuscany

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Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Bill De Giulio

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      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        2 months ago from Massachusetts

        Hi Chris. Totally agree. No hoards of tourists, Tuscany as you imagine it to be. The people were so friendly, just a magical place.

      • profile image

        Chris 

        2 months ago

        I discovered Monticchiello several years ago on my first trip to Italy and used it as my home base for nine day. I call it my Italian hometown.

        From Giacomo’s La Guardiola just outside the gates to the three world class restaurants inside the food and hospitality is unmatched anywhere.

        Add in the most stunning view of Val D’Orcia and there is no place like it on earth.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        6 years ago from Massachusetts

        Hi Grace, thanks for visiting Monticchiello with me. It certainly is a beautiful place. I hope you get there some day.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        6 years ago from Massachusetts

        Thanks diasy, appreciate the nice comments. Italy has definitely been my thing for the last few years, you might say I'm addicted to it right now. Thanks for stopping by.

      • Grace Whites profile image

        Grace Whites 

        6 years ago from Manalapan, New Jersey, USA

        Wow, nice photos. I hope that I can visit on that place too. Thanks for sharing them.

      • daisynicolas profile image

        daisynicolas 

        6 years ago from Alaska

        Why read AAA's Travel Guide, when you do it better? I know where to look for my Italian trips, then.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        6 years ago from Massachusetts

        Thank You Peggy. We had never heard of Monticchiello until our Agriturismo host recommended that we stop there. It really is a wonderful place and a great example of the true Tuscan life. Thank you for the vote and nice comments.

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        6 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Thanks Bill for your delightful photos and also telling us about the charming town of Monticchiello in Tuscany. It truly does look like an overlooked gem of a place! Voted up, useful, beautiful and sharing with my followers.

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